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Kia Classic: Gal steady, Shin fading, new mom happy

March 27, 2011 |  3:20 pm

Wie1_300 Sandra Gal, the 25-year-old German and University of Florida graduate, has started her final round of the Kia Classic at the Industry Hills Golf Club in Pacific Palms by making seven straight pars, and that steadiness has given her a two-shot lead.

Gal began the day a shot behind South Korea's Jiyai Shin, but Shin, who is ranked second in the world, has bogeyed three of her first seven holes and is now tied for second with her countrywoman Na Yeon Choi, who is three-under on the day. Shin and Choi are at 12-under for the tournament. Alone in fourth is a third South Korean, I.K. Kim.

The biggest smile of the day, and the best round so far, has come from 33-year-old new mother Marcy Hart who just finished a final round of eight-under 65. Hart is tied for fifth at the moment with fellow Americans Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie.

Hart has a 6-month old daughter, Reece, and has almost certainly clinched a spot in next week's Kraft Nabisco championship, the season's first major. The top 10 women in the Kia Classic who hadn't already qualified, will earn spots for next week's event at Rancho Mirage.

"I've only qualified for Kraft once before," said Hart. "I really didn't have any expectations for myself at the start of this season either. I had very little practice. I'm a new mom, a first-time mom and I'm just still learning."

Hart, from North Carolina, travels with her daughter, who will now get a trip to the desert.


LPGA Kia Classic leaderboard

Jiyai Shin leads Sandra Gal heading into final round

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Michelle Wie hits an approach shot on No. 1 at Industry Hills Golf Club during the final round of the Kia Classic on Sunday. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press